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The Boston Globe

Magazine

Arts in New England

Making a living on the competitive church-music circuit

A soprano and a composer share their struggles and successes.

IF YOU SPEND much time in Boston, you’re spending a decent chunk of your life in the company of people who took a lot of years to be able to do a special something not a lot of other people can do. We see it when David Ortiz hits a grand slam or when an MIT physicist dreams up a theory that just might explain the origin of the universe, and we see it in all sorts of smaller and quieter ways. Into that last category falls a particular kind of musician that’s big in these parts: the church performer.

Boston is a great hotbed of classical music, and it’s all there, ripe for the listening — and often for free — in any one of dozens of area churches. But when you’re sitting in the pews, immersed in whatever you’re immersed in, there can be a tendency to take the musicians around you for granted. You don’t always consider, say, how tough it is to make a living as an artist, especially when your venue tends to let people in for free on Sundays. And you don’t always think about how difficult it is to succeed in a field that requires you to be able to bounce from one singing gig on Newbury Street, hop a Green Line car and bang out another in Newton, before zooming back to Harvard Square for the final performance of the day.

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